Book Review: The Protectors’ Pledge: Secrets of Oscuros

Another great review.

The Protectors’ Pledge: Secrets of Oscuros by Danielle Y.C. McClean is the 2016 third place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

JV is an adventurous eleven-year-old boy on vacation from school. He lives with his grandmother who is the quintessential Caribbean granny; she loves to feed everyone who comes to her house. She is also the ‘medicine woman’ in their village.

JV has plans of exploring the forest for the vacation, he is very excited, but his grandmother and other villagers discourage him from doing so because of their suspicions and beliefs that the forest is the home of mythical/folklore creatures.

JV defies his grandmother and goes further into the forest that she has instructed him to. On his first visit, he goes with two friends, but they leave separately, and JV sees a strange woman in a river that makes him curious about who or what she was. He suspects that…

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Book Review: Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell

#CaribbeanBookReview #BurtAward

Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell is the 2016 second place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

Fifteen year old Desma could not be more excited about her upcoming sweet sixteen birthday plans. She has also recently won a very prestigious scholarship that would give her the opportunity to become an Actuary.  Everyone is happy for her and her life is seemingly perfect until a boycott threatens to disrupt, even cancel her birthday lime at the local cinema.

A group named the Progressive Group has initiated opposition to segregation in Bermuda. At first, Desma is very annoyed at the disruption until several unsavoury incidents happen to her and her family. She changes her view and decides to do something about it.

This is another deserving book from the Burt Awards. This book can be of interest to children in primary and secondary schools. It shows the growth in Desma’s mindset when she…

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Protector’s Pledge a gripping mystery

A review by Debbie Jacob for Trinidad’s Newsday. A big shout out to author Danielle McClean

Repeating Islands

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A big shout out to author Danielle McClean, who was my student at Vassar College!!

A review by Debbie Jacob for Trinidad’s Newsday.

Don’t be surprised when you read the annual CODE Burt Award-winning, Young Adult (YA) novels, and feel that you prefer a different order for the three winning books. They are so close in literary merit and so different in genre or writing style that I find it is difficult to rank the winners in any particular order. In my book, they all deserve first place.

Today, I introduce you to the third-place winner, Secrets of Oscuros: The Protectors’ Pledge by Trinidadian-born author Danielle YC McClean, who now lives in the state of Tennessee in the US.

Combining folklore and adventure into a gripping story about identity and how we perceive ourselves in the world, McClean constructs a genre-bending mystery, which appears to be the first book…

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Book Review: Dreams Beyond the Shore

Dreams Beyond the Shore by Tamika Gibson is the 2016 first place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

Dreams Beyond the Shore simultaneously chronicles the life of the daughter of a political leader on the heels of elections in Trinidad and Tobago, and her love interest, Kyron, the son of a shady businessman. Chelsea Marchand wants nothing more than to be a Writer, but her father Dr. Peter Marchand is openly unsupportive of her creative pursuits. He wants her to be a Lawyer, and eventually follow in his footsteps towards the political arena.

Chelsea and Kyron met when they are both in the registration line at the University of the West Indies. Although Kyron is attracted to Chelsea, he initially judges her by her obvious financial security. He, himself, is financially secured, compliments of his father with whom he has no real relationship. Kyron doesn’t learn that Chelsea…

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“A Brief History of Seven Killings” to be adapted for Amazon Studios

Repeating Islands

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Many thanks to Geoffrey Philp for sharing the news “’Insecure’ Director to Adapt Man Booker Prize-Winning Novel for Amazon Studios” from the Hollywood Reporter; Marlon James is working on an adaptation of A Brief History of Seven Killings for Amazon Studios. Melina Matsoukas, chief director of the HBO series Insecure, is developing the project as a series:

Marlon James is writing the adaptation of ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ with Jill Soloway, Eric Roth and Malcolm Spellman on board as executive producers.

Melina Matsoukas, chief director of the HBO series Insecure, is tackling an adaptation of the award-winning Marlon James novel A Brief History of Seven Killings for Amazon Studios. Matsoukas is developing the project as a series and will executive produce as well as direct the episodes. Teaming with her is James, who will write the script as well as executive produce, while Malcolm Spellman…

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Book Review: Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse

#CaribbeanBookReview #BurtAward @code_can Book Review: Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean

musical_youthMusical Youth is beautifully written. It is a pride to Caribbean young adult fiction. Though it addresses a current and very real social issue, the writer skillfully educates you while she takes you back to the innocence of school days in the Caribbean. You can’t help but remember your first crush, how every little thing they did is permanently etched in your memory.

There is a good blend of characters throughout the book, and they complement each other well. It was also refreshing to read a story about children doing positive things.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it to fellow readers.

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Book Review: All Over Again by A-Dziko Simba Gegele

#CaribbeanBookReview #BurtAward @code_can All Over Again by A-Dziko Simba Gegele winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

alloverThis book features the life of a 12 year old boy as he goes about his days, doing regular things. The catch is that so much of what adults may deem simple is totally disruptive to this poor child’s life. It reminds me of the movie American Psycho without the killing.

At first I could not connect with the rhythm the book was written in until I recognized that it was adding to the way the main character’s thoughts were playing out. The style was also age appropriate.

Nothing is insignificant to the boy. He breaks down everything that happens to him throughout the book.  I felt enlightened as to how complicated a child’s presumably simple life can be.

The story is well written and edit, one of the best Caribbean books I’ve read in a while. All Over Again is a good read and deserving winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature in 2014.

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Book Review: Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

#CaribbeanBookReview #BurtAward @code_can Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay is the 2015 second prize winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay is the 2015 second prize winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

Gone to Drift is the story of Lloyd, a Jamaican youth who refused to accept that his grandfather, Maas Conrad, was dead when he did not return from a fishing trip after several days. Both family members and neighbours alike implored twelve year old Lloyd to cease his search and dangerous investigations. He defies them and continuously goes to great lengths to trace his grandfather’s steps. Lloyd finds some very ugly truths that he had suspected.

Eventually, with the help of a young female scientist, he learnt that Maas Conrad was last seen at Pedro Cays, a group of islands that was not his usual fishing location and that his disappearance might be connected to his disapproval of an ongoing Dolphin trade.

Parallel to this story, the writer narrates a first-person…

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God Is NOT A Trini

Exactly…..

Critics May Lie

Is it possible that for this hurricane season we can get rid of the “God is a Trini” term?

Let me put it another way.

Is it possible that for this hurricane season we can stop being so damn insensitive to the millions of people in the region who have literally had their lives destroyed because ‘God is a Trini’.

Now I know nobody really believes it. Every country has their own sayings that only make sense there. It is just our way of explaining why several times we have been directly in the path of a hurricane only to find that it suddenly changed its mind a few miles out and went in another direction. God must be a Trini. *shrug*

However, I don’t think my Trinbagonian brothers and sisters who raise this ‘nothing can touch us cause God is a Trini’ flag high every year understand the depth…

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10 Tips for the Average Joe on working with a Small Construction Company

So you are taking the plunge and building your own home. You’ve finally decided to go ahead with those improvements to your home or office. Before you dip into your pocket think about these ten things.

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  1. You are the Project Manager

When you decide to build a house or complete any type of renovations on your property with your hard earned money or loan please remember that you are the Project Manager. This is extremely important. Private individuals without fraud insurance handing over large sums of cash to any construction company to complete their work is not advised. You or a member of your family must dedicate time to working with this company on a daily/weekly basis to get your job done.

Do not relinquish your hold on your resources! Always ask questions so you can make decisions in your favor.      

  1. Get an agreement.

Before you pay you need to sign and get a copy of a contract which includes what you are paying for and when to expect it. It should also outline who is your contact at the company and the fact that you need to be consulted for approval at agreed stages of the project. Always refer to and keep to this contract, changes to the contract should be re-negotiation and a new contract/addendum be presented in writing.

Save your paperwork, paperwork is king. 

  1. Ask for a detailed project projection

If your project is going to last three months or more or even less you should know what the weekly deliverables are. Deliverables should always be attached to payment. These should be written down and attached to your contractual agreement.

A contractor who gets paid when he delivers has an extra incentive to deliver. 

  1. Ask for a detailed estimate

Many people begin a project with a summary of resources and deliverables over an agreed time-period however you must also get a detailed estimate, which should include:

  1. Cost of management of the project
  2. Wage projection for the period, which clearly lists the number of workers on the project, their expected number of hours and their salary over the period. Every single person that is to be paid goes on this list, so you can calculate your weekly wage bill.
  3. An estimate of materials – each item listed as needed should have a cost attached. Once you have the time, you should review your materials list and purchase items yourself; feel free to ask your company representative to recommend the places to purchase items or give you advice on the selections or even come with you. Some items e.g. tiles, toilets sets, external brick design really need your personal touch and should be done in collaboration with the company.

It’s your money; ask how it is being spent and don’t be afraid to spend it.

  1. Ask for receipts

Never relinquish money unless you have a corresponding signed and/or stamped (company stamped) document that can be held up in court.

Make sure you can account for every transaction.

 Ask about payment options

This is where your detailed estimate comes in handy, at a glance you can see the actual spend needed to complete the project. So let’s say you have been presented that in three months the project will be completed and the deliverable will be met at the cost of $50,000.

Option 1 – Pay the full fee upfront – Never take this option.

Option 2 – Pay a down payment and complete payment in three/four equal parts – this is acceptable once it is hinged on deliverables and not just random dates.

Option 3 – Discuss payments options: You don’t have to break the bank and can ask for a fluid contract where you pay as the project moves along.

For example you can agree to pay:  

  • Cost of management of the project: in equal parts, again this should be on deliverables
  • Wage projection for the period: Since you know the wage bill you can make a two weeks deposit and agree to keep that ratio constant, always two weeks in advance.
  • Materials: This is an area where you can order your own materials to keep your materials bill down.
  1. Negotiate for better deadlines if you need it.

Always ask if it can be done faster, contractors give themselves more time than needed. If time is an issue, say. Don’t just hope for the best. If you need to move into the house by Christmas, they may think giving you the keys Christmas Eve is ideal when you really want it a week before.

Be precise with deadlines, speak dates and time and send them a follow-up email confirming what was discussed so you have it in writing.  

  1. Visit the site regularly

Keep checking on those deliverables and speak up if an item promised in week 1 isn’t on schedule. Ask how is this going to affect the end of the project? A contractor who knows you’ll notice if something is off will try harder to make sure nothing goes wrong.

I never forgot my father saying, you have to finish this week. If you don’t, you pay yourself to finish it next week.

  1. Include an exit clause

Your contract should include a way to get out of it. The project may not work out to be what you expected and you may need to get your money back and move on.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

  1. Promise a good a bad report after the job is completed.

My granddad did his house in parts and he would say well if you do the extra room okay I will see about giving you the driveway. Test the waters. You’ve met someone new, with a good track record but you still need to test out their work ethic. Hire them to do part of the job and watch the results.

Let people prove themselves; stop taking everyone’s word on faith.

You may say this is too much for a small contractor but you know what, governments and public agencies ask for so much more and these same companies fill out the paper work because they want the job. These same companies start government’s jobs with no down payment while using your money to fund both jobs.

People will respect you when you respect yourself, your money and your ideas.

If you are thinking about starting a construction project in Trinidad or Tobago, reach out to MasFab Construction Services, they will be there with you from foundation to finish.

Email: masfabconstruction@gmail.com

Facebook: MasFab Construction Services

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